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Today's Family Magazine

Get closer to Ohio nature than ever before at the Perkins Wildlife Center

May 22, 2017 11:46AM ● By Today's Family
By Laura Lytle

As part of the 100-year anniversary campaign of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the museum was able to re-imagine its Perkins Wildlife Center & Woods Garden, which had existed for more than 40 years.  The all-new exhibit immerses visitors in a natural environment while protecting rare and endangered species of animals and plants native to Ohio.

Visitors can get a sense of the natural habitat for Ohio wildlife on the ground, in the water or above the treetops.  One of the exhibits allows visitors to walk below the waterline into a wetlands community with fish, turtles and frogs or watch the playful North American river otters.

Families can also get a bird’s eye view of the forest below as they walk along the winding elevated walkway above a canopy of beech and oak trees.  The walkway twists above and below animal enclosures giving guests enriching and interactive ways to observe animals in their natural habitats.

“We have successfully created an experience for visitors to be in the middle of a very natural environment in the heart of University Circle. The new enclosures engage visitors with the rehabilitated animals that live here while helping educate them on the importance of our rescue and rehabilitation efforts,” said John Mangels, science communications officer for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

All of the animals that live at Perkins have been rescued and none can be released back into the wild successfully. They have come from other animal rehab centers in northeast Ohio and beyond.

“Our coyotes came from Texas. The packs mother was hit by a car and luckily the driver was a veterinarian that delivered and saved the pups. Because they have been raised in captivity they cannot return to the wild. Our Perkins Wildlife Center has become a great home for them and our other animals,” added Mangels.

Visitors can enjoy five distinct ecological communities that allow the injured and rehabilitated animals to live in the comfort of their natural surroundings, including thousands of rare and endangered native Ohio plants. In addition to coyotes, Perkins cares for porcupines, red and grey foxes, bobcats, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, owls, numerous songbirds and Meeko, the albino raccoon.

From rich forests to shrub swamps, wild woods gardens to vibrant wetlands, Perkins Wildlife Center and Woods Garden has numerous educational plaques that explain how everything in nature is connected as well as how individuals can help the Museum in its mission to protect our fragile ecosystems.

School groups visit and experience the wildlife center daily to enhance school science curriculums. Programs are also offered throughout the year to the public creating unique opportunities to get up close and interactive with the wildlife. Upcoming wildlife programs and events are listed on the website calendar.
Open 7 days a week, access to the Perkins Wildlife Center is included with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History admission.  For more information on the Perkins Wildlife & Woods Gardens visit or call 216-231-4600.

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